In chapter 2 of Kidnapped, David Balfour finally sees the house of Shaws after hearing vague and disturbing reports of it and of his Uncle Ebenezer. He is shocked to observe the grimness and dereliction of the house, which looks more like a ruin than somebody's home. He has been expecting a great house, and it is certainly very large, but there is no sign of human habitation. No road leads to the house, and no smoke comes from the chimneys. As David approaches, the house seems even drearier and less inviting, and one wing of it appears never to have been finished. When he finally knocks on the door, he is greeted by his uncle with a loaded gun.
David's first impressions of the grimness and dereliction of the house and the meanness of his uncle's character prove to be perfectly accurate. One circumstance that certainly colors his impression of the house is the fact that he is first shown the place by a furious woman who calls down a curse upon it. As dusk is falling, David asks the woman if she knows the house, whereupon she points it out in the distance and says,
That is the house of Shaws! Blood built it; blood stopped the building of it; blood shall bring it down. See here ... I spit upon the ground, and crack my thumb at it! Black be its fall!
Such an introduction would be enough to prejudice anyone against the house.